Genre bending phenom Hyro The Hero flexes his mixtape pedigree with ‘Kids Against the Monsters’

Posted by Ramon Gonzales in Culture on March 30, 2021

The Houston native details the creative foundation that steered him towards his aggressive, alternative mesh and crafting his highly ambitious collaborative project.

In an era where genre lines are becoming more irrelevant and cultural nuances are regularly converging, Hyro The Hero manages still to separate himself from pack as someone chiefly unique.

Long before Hyro first emerged in the terrain of alternative music with this 2011 Ross Robinson-produced Birth, School, Work, Death, the Houston native had already cultivated a rabid base of defenders that were already preaching the good word of The Hero.

Championed for his live prowess that was equally convincing as it was entertaining, Hyro The Hero’s fluid versatility manifested in an authentic artistry that was the kind of compelling that turned heads and commanded the attention of the world of music at large.

Long before the formative last decade that was bookended by his 2011 full length debut and rounded out with the critically-lauded 2018, Flagged Channel, Hyro’s musical foundation was cemented in a series of mixtapes that saw the vocalist/lyricist/songwriter forge his intended path of creative donation. Crafting a collection of tracks that married the slab-riding swagger of his Houston roots with his penchant for the emotional catharsis heavy rock, Hyro musical framework was established.

Hyro the Hero by Travis Shinn

Marking an especially pivotal year for Hyro, 2020 brought with it the steady trickle of collaborative tracks that saw the musician rediscover his mixtape salad days. First releasing the emphatic “We Believe” with David Draiman of Disturbed, Hyro asserted his name as tip of the tongue in the rock universe. He would follow that up with yet another banger, a joint effort with Chad Gray of HellYeah in the confrontational call to arms in “Fight“. With the rock world on the ropes, Hyro carried his command of 2020 into the new year with the anthemic “Retaliation Generation” featuring scarecore specialist Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills.

For those in the know, Hyro was solidified – a hero. For those just coming around, the evidence was irrefutable. The stylistic meld of fluid workplay, dynamic instrumentation, and the kind of conviction on the track that turns naysayers into true believers, Hyro was indeed setting the bar for what was to be his most ambitious artistic endeavor yet.

More than a decade into his career, Hyro is yet again asserting his rank with the announcement Kids Against The Monsters, a defining collaborative compilation that harkens his mixtape history to breathe new life into the realm of rock music. Enlisting a comprehensive roster of genre elites to give each track it’s own identity, the recorded effort intended to kick a hole in the conventional and again tear down the confines of traditional divides to create something definitive, something daring.

Who better to explain the concept of the project than the engineer of the vision himself… Hyro the Hero.

The mixtape is a staple of the hip hop community. Growing up in Houston, the format had such a big influence on me and the city’s culture overall. There were local legends like DJ Screw who introduced us to many amazing artists through them. When you were coming up, the mixtape was the way to get yourself heard. Burning CD after CD then hitting the mall to try to sell it – you had to let everyone know you are the best on the microphone. 

When I was a teenager, I made my first few mixtapes as collaborations with friends from my hood. I started rapping over popular instrumentals in the local southern style of rap.

When I decided to work on my own music, life pulled me to try something different. I was inspired by a high school break-up and all the emotions that came with it. I wanted to stand out and express my anger, my sadness, and my frustration (I really just wanted to scream!). Rock music was my answer. The aggressive sound embodied everything I was feeling, so I made a mixtape sampling those guitar-heavy sounds that took over me.

I sampled rock songs I heard on the radio and what was popular. I called it Gangsta Rock. This mixtape got my name popping up all over MySpace (remember MySpace?!! lol), and within the Houston area. From there I dove further into rock and discovered the not-so-mainstream acts; I fell in love with Bad Brains, Fishbone, Rancid, At the Drive In, In Living Colour, Deftones and so many more. 

I followed up my first mixtape with Rock N Roll Gangsta and then Belo Horizonte using my same style of sampling rock tracks. As these mixtapes reached more and more people, I was able to start making my own music and put out two original albums that gained a lot of respect amongst the rock community. I got to tour the world, meet iconic rock artists at different festivals and shows, and now I’m here – ready to put out new music after reflecting on where I’ve been.  

My new project is a mixtape called Kids Against The Monsters. But now, I’m no longer sampling songs. Instead, I actually got to work with legendary artists who are performing on MY tracks. David Draiman, Chad Gray, Spencer Charnas, Atreyu and more… Artists I’ve respected for years. It feels full circle in such an epic way. 

And I’m so glad I’m doing it on my own creative terms. This project is very special to me because it’s a format we love in hip-hop, and it was the way I was able to make my first songs and first connect with fans. I wanted to bring that idea to rock music. And while I came to rock wanting to respect the art form, its history and the fans too – and I really do! – there’s a part of me as an artist that needed to bridge my past with my present in order to feel fully myself.  I can’t wait for you all to hear it.

Hyro The Hero

Stay tuned for a series of moderated deep dive discussions with Hyro The Hero and the roster of collaborative cohorts to be broadcast via KNOTFEST.com ahead of the release of Kids Against The Monsters. The interview series will provide a first-hand account of the significance of each track while providing real insight to the scope of such an important recorded effort. Stay tuned for developments.


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